Friday, June 26, 2009

On minority opinions

Stockholm at babble has already pointed out one of the obvious flaws in Chantal Hebert's "lessons" on minority government, as contrary to Hebert's assertion the NDP has in fact made ample efforts to cooperate to get positive results (even while recognizing that propping up the Harper government doesn't figure to benefit anybody but Harper). But it's worth noting that a couple of the others don't stand up any better to scrutiny:
The Bloc Québécois has no interest in dancing with a government partner for any length of time and that is reciprocal.
Unless one counts, say, a written commitment to vote with a coalition government for 18 months which the Bloc, Libs and NDP all agreed to. Which in fact makes the Bloc the only party which has ever offered a commitment to support a recent minority government for more than a season's worth of votes in Parliament - and all indications are that they offered support for an even longer span of time in exchange for some policy promises.

Mind you, it's true that the Cons managed to make political hay out of that agreement after the fact. But it's still patently wrong to claim that the Bloc hasn't shown any interest in long-term support for a government - and it could well be that the criticisms only managed to resonate because Canadians were deprived of the opportunity to see the Bloc's votes support a more stable government than we've otherwise had for years.
Regardless of who is in power, a minority government will almost always be pulled to the left.
Not that I'd complain if this one were true. But it too doesn't hold up at all in light of actual experience.

After all, it was the Martin Liberal minority government that unveiled a corporate-friendly budget that the Cons saw no reason to oppose - with the NDP amendments which Hebert points to as evidence of a leftward drift coming to pass only after the Cons changed their mind about voting down the government. And the Cons have had no lack of success in pushing a right-wing agenda over the rolled-over Libs since they took power.

Indeed, the only lesson that seems to fit as to ideology is somewhat of a truism: that any cooperative efforts will tend to fall between the government's starting point and the position of the opposition party being dealt with. Which explains why any cooperation between a Con government and any party has resulted in a shift to the government's left - but also explains why the Cons have built a strategy around forcing their policies down the throat of the Libs rather than accepting any substantive changes.

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